There have been lots of questions about why we chose to do our Part 2 article using the 3.7 Cats from ATI rather than waiting until today to use the brand new 3.8 version of the drivers. Our reasoning behind this decision was two fold: we wanted to get yesterday's article out as a timely follow-up to last weeks Part 1 of the series, and we also wanted to do a comparison between the 3.7 Cats and the new drivers.

With the Radeon XT series, ATI introduced a new feature called OverDrive. The basic principle of OverDrive is that the GPU can run at higher clock speeds if it is running cool enough, so as long as the chip is cool enough it will safely overclock. ATI’s OverDrive technology uses a combination of a hardware thermal diode and software support to keep track of the temperature of the GPU. If the temperature is within certain predefined limits, the drivers will increase the GPU clock speed by a safe margin defined by ATI. Once the GPU heats up again to the point where ATI can’t guarantee no degradation of chip-life, the drivers will underclock the GPU to as low as its original clock speed (but never lower). The Catalyst 3.8 drivers enable support for the thermal diode present on the Radeon 9800XT and the Radeon 9600XT; note that none of the previous Radeon cards have the thermal diode and thus will not support OverDrive.

The whole idea that a reputable company would be building any kind of overclockability into their product has really intrigued us. We had lots of questions like: how much will performance improve, and will stability be an issue. How much can we really get for nothing? Well, the answers may surprise, but even if they don't, there are some very interesting implications from the way things have played out. But before we get to that, we are going to take a look at the new interface, and then go through all the games in the list one more time.

This time for our testing, we will only be doing 1600x1200 with AA/AF on and off for games that have the option. All of our graphs will use the data we collected for Part 2 and compare it to what we found after we received our drivers from ATI yesterday. It’s been a long night, but it was well worth it.

We used the same benchmarks on the same FX51 system as in Part 2. Let’s let the show begin...

Catalyst 3.8 Drivers
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  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 09, 2003 - link

    I'm just setting up a new rig with a 1/2in watercooling system. I have the maze4 GPU cooler and was about to buy a 9800-Pro. I assume that if I got an XT instead and used the C3.8 drivers it will probably run permenantly at the full overdrive speed because the chip should be cool even under full load?

    I wonder if the new drivers will cause any problems if I manualy overclock an XT...
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 09, 2003 - link

    lol, when ATI renders only the half in TRAOD it is clear that ATI is leading. Also please look at the 52.14 fps Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 09, 2003 - link

    Sounds like #28 has a case of the sour grapes ;) Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 09, 2003 - link

    I think, reading the reference numbering that something has knocked them out of sync.

    Still, for want of a better reference, what I see as #12 has a good point. Try cooling the case and see what happens. I'd like to know how far the overdrive is prepared to take it.

    Also, perhaps the 9600XT part may see more dramatic improvements since the base running temperature should be lower than the 9800XT.

    Scott
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    OOOHHHH! that explains it! i didnt know the overdrive feature only went up to 432mhz...

    well, i guess its a step in the right direction, but still pretty conservative all things considered
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    Checking out other sites reviews (I wonder why it wasn't mentioned here...), Overdrive only goes up to 432Mhz on the core and doesn't touch mem speed at all (although they said it will in future releases). That's such a small increase it's pretty much as if it wasn't there at all.
    Manual overclocking won't get replaced anytime soon.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    Should try the 3.8 with IL2. My framerate went in the crapper and now there is texture tearing. They did fix the white water "perfect mode" bug though. Well,except in perfect mode it does about 20 FPS now. Whoopie..........! Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    #33... was that a comeback? LOL
    Stop talking about HL2 cause it aint coming out for half a year now. Doom3 will most likely come out before it =)
    And why are some of you people acting like theres nothing to prove RIGHT NOW that ATi beats NV in DX9 games?
    Im not going to bash GeforceFX owners. You had your own reasons for buying that line of cards. Whether it was to support your favorite company or to get the really cool leaf blower. Who cares.

    But dont try and say no one knows if ATI cards will perform better then Nvidia. It does and its been proven. In developer interviews for almost all DX9 games, developers say they needed to code a special NV path to try and get compareable frame rates to the R3XX series. (With no special coding for ATI cards)
    If your going to tell me that the developers dont know, then whatever, put on your fanboy cape and jump of a bridge.

    p.s. ROFL @ #8
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    #31, this is #28 ...

    I wasn't talking about HL2 frame rates.

    I was talking about TRAOD fram rates.

    I thuroughly expect HL2 to perform MUCH better than TRAOD. I'm really pissed off at CORE for writing a shitty game. I dont' think their performance problems are due to a lack of graphics power, but to incompitant programming.

    But I can play at 10x7 with AA and AF, as long as the horrid PS2.0 effects are off.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    #31 atleast he can play the game...what are u using ? maybe intel extreme graphics... Reply

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